BL1GHT is a newly formed duo consisting of HU$H & Tech N9ne. One is a rapper/producer from Los Angeles known for his work in the EDM scene under numerous aliases & the latter being amongst the biggest independent hip hop artists of all-time. Now I’m not really sure exactly how these guys’ paths crossed, but my morbid curiosity for this eponymous debut EP of theirs got the best of me given how much of a N9na fan I’ve been since high school. Especially off the strength of albums like Anghellic, Absolute Power, Everready (The Religion), K.o.D. (King of Darkness), All 6’s & 7’s, Welcome to Strangeland and Special Effects.
”Let Lost Happen” starts the EP by going into a brostep direction as BL1GHT tell the listener that “false starts isn’t how they play” whereas the next joint “Noise Baby” sounds like a rehash of your generic EDM track from 2011 with it’s repetitive structuring. We go into a more glitchier sound on the lyrically aggressive “Move Back Right Now” before fusing elements of dubstep & trap metal with “Smiley”.
Meanwhile on “Wear U Down”, the instrumental for some reason sounds like the theme music you’d hear whenever a Blacklight: Retribution match would end as BL1GHT rap about the way they show love while the penultimate track “41 Days” is much more melodic & the lyrics are more depressing. The closer “Suffering” is a lot similar to “Smiley” in terms of the production with the duo rapping about wanting their opposition to suffer.
I have nothing against dubstep or EDM as an entire genre, but boy was it a struggle for me to sit through this entire EP for 22 minutes. The chemistry between the duo seems to be hamfisted rather than natural because as a performer, Tech N9ne is just washing HU$H on every song. On top of that, the latter’s production isn’t as invigorating as someone like Burial’s
Saigon is a 43 year old MC from Brooklyn, New York who broke out in the early 2000s off his debut mixtape Da Yardfather. However, it wouldn’t be until 2011 when he would make his full-length debut by dropping The Greatest Story Never Told under Suburban Noize Records. The album would spawn a sequel to fulfill his contract with the Spade the following year & then a final installment on his own imprint Squid Ink Squad Records in 2014. He returned from a 6 year hiatus last summer by signing to Strange Music’s new subsidiary It Goes Up Entertainment & dropping the STREETRUNNER-produced EP 777: The Resurrection almost right after but here we are 7 months later with Saigon’s 4th full-length album.
After the DJ Kayslay intro, the first song “Head Blown (Vitabudz Theme)” talks about vibing until his head is gone over an instrumental that hawks back to 80s electro while the track “2 for $5” makes multiple comparisons to the titular deal over a bountiful beat. The song “My Gun” talks about being strapped at all times over a boom bap instrumental with some sirens while the track “Blessings” pays tribute to those murdered by the system from Mike Brown to Sandra Bland over a bereft beat.
The song “People Next Door” talks about the person living next to him getting laid down the night before over a cinematic instrumental while the following track is a pointless remix to “Mechanical Animals” off of The Greatest Story Never Told 3: The Troubled Times of Brian Carenard. “The D” with Jay Varcity is a gross, lovey dovey disco tune while the song “Warm Honey” is almost as painful to listen to except the production on this one is more silkier.
The track “U Do Understand That, Right?” With Axel Leon finds the 2 talking about partying all night over a jazz/trap infused beat while the song “We Don’t Need You” talks about cutting off punks in his life over a Satanic instrumental. The track “Same Ol’ Me” talks about how he hasn’t changed after all these years over an inspiriting beat while the song “U Don’t Know Me” is a catchy bop calling out those who think they know everything about him.
The track “Buss It Down” with Bam Vito is a terribly written strip club anthem backed by generic instrumental while “The Streets” talks about how it ain’t no joke in the hood over an organ-laced beat. The track “It Goes Up” with Rough finds the 2 talking about firing at their squad if they take food out their mouths over a boom bap instrumental with some choir vocals while the song “Deeper” with O.T. the Real sees the duo talking about how deep they are over an exultant beat. After the “Saigon Speaks” skit, “The Co-Op Cipher” teams up with Cassidy to get on the battle tip over a sullen instrumental. He also takes the time to announce 2 more albums coming later this year, one produced entirely by Buckwild & the other with Jahlil Beats.
Even though I prefer 777: The Resurrection, I still think this is a solid album. There are joints on here that felt out of place like the “Mechanical Animals” remix & that cringey disco joint, but Saigon can still rip up mics like it was nothing & the production is pretty tight for a good deal of it.
This is the 8th full-length album from Miami-based trio ¡MAYDAY!. Formed in 2003 by keyboardist/guitarist Plex Luthor & emcee Bernz, the duo released their self-titled debut in the fall of ‘06 before adding 4 more members into the fold: emcee/producer Wrekonize, bassist Gianni Ca$h, percussionist NonMS & drummer L.T. Hopkins in 2009. Together, they would begin to rock the underground off 2 EPs & their sophomore album Stuck on an Island. This would catch the attention of Kansas City veteran Tech N9ne, who signed the group to his independent powerhouse Strange Music in 2011. They would go on to cement themselves as a flagship act on the label’s roster off critically acclaimed projects like Take Me to Your Leader, Thrift Store Halos, Believers & Future Vintage. However since 2016, ¡MAYDAY! has been a 3-piece consisting of Wrek, Bernz & NonMS. Their first album as a trio Search Party was a decent sequel to Stuck on an Island & the heavily reggae-influenced South of 5th was slightly better, but it’s been a little over 2 years after the release of their previous EP The Thinnest Line II, the 3 are getting back together for Minute to Midnight.
After the “In Due Time” intro, the title track that truly kicks the album off talks their patience being tested as well as divine new moralities over some wavy synth-lines & live drumming from ¡MAYDAY! themselves whereas the next song “Make Noise” talks about how “them boys won’t let you live in peace” over a Carribean-flavored trap beat from 7. The track “See You Smile” motivates the listener to stay strong in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic over some bass & acoustic guitars while the song “Hard to Leave” details relationship issues over a moody beat from Bernz with co-production from The Pushers.
The track “Words Get in the Way” picks up where the previous cut left off as Bernz & Wrekonize talk to their partners about trying to change over an instrumental kin to a 70’s blaxploitation film while the song “Golden Hour” talks about meeting their lovers in “that place where the night moves slow” over a funky beat. The track “Lost Cause” talks about the reason why women do them wrong over a cavernous trap instrumental & then UBI provides the album’s only guest verse on the song “All In” as he & ¡MAYDAY! talk about being fully committed over a cloudy beat from NonMS.
The track “Let You Tell It” talks about letting their loved ones speak their minds over a reggae-tinged instrumental while the song “Flatline” is a rap rock anthem about chasing death. The track “1 Eye Open” is a piano-boom bap ballad calling out the fact that everyone says they’re woke nowadays & then the song “Flowers” expresses their hope of being appreciated while they’re still here over an instrumental with some heavy jazz undertones.
The track “Empty” is a stripped-back, catchy look into depression while the song “Can’t Do That Anymore” talks about wandering down a windy road over a disco-flavored beat. The track “Get There” talks about how they’re not sure where they’re going over a pillowy instrumental while the closer “Foul Out” goes back & forth dismissing all the bullshit being said about them over some punk-like guitar riffs & drums. But then there’s the bonus cut “Hit’s Different”, where Bernz & Wrekonize talk about trying to break out of a cycle over a plaintive instrumental from Wyshmaster.
Even though their last couple projects have been just ok to me, I was very excited for this given how much I enjoyed Wrekonize & Bernz’ latest solo albums Pressure Point & Sorry for the Mess. At the end of the day, this is the best ¡MAYDAY! album I’ve heard since Future Vintage. The songwriting is some of their most captivating ever & the way the trio fuses together all the sounds they’ve ever dabbled with into 1 continues to show how unique they are.
Bernz is a 42 year old MC from Miami, Florida most notable for being a co-founder of the band ¡MAYDAY! alongside Plex Luthor in 2003. But after bringing a co-frontman & 3 other instrumentalists into the fold by the end of the decade, Kansas City icon Tech N9ne signed the group to his evergrowing independent powerhouse Strange Music in 2011 & have remained on the label since. However, it wouldn’t be until 2016 where Bernz branched out into a solo career & dropped See You on the Other Side. Fast forward 4 years later, he’s enlisting 7 to produce his sophomore effort in it’s entirety.
Things kick off with the title track, where Bernz apologizes to the listener for what they’re about to hear over a dreary instrumental. The next song “Don’t Wait on Me” then tells this woman to walk out the door over a boom bap beat with an acoustic guitar while the track “On My Way” talks about how this woman makes him feel over a jam session-like instrumental. The track “Necessity” with his ¡MAYDAY! partner in rhyme Wrekonize sees the 2 getting confessional over a piano & some explosive drums while the song “Outchea” talks about keeping things on pace over some blissful guitar melodic & some handclaps.
The song “Limited Time” with Futuristic finds the 2 talking about out of town romance over a funky ass beat while the track “Done” talks about waking up from the wrong side & still feeling good over a tropical trap instrumental. The song “Slow Dance” is a beautiful foot tapper backed by a sensual beat with some heavy drums while the track “Old Cutler Drive” looks back on his younger days as a hungry artist over a trap instrumental that kinda has a jazzy flare to it.
The song “In My Mind” opens up on being epileptic over a lugubrious beat while the track “Party in My Room” talks about sex over a fast-tempo instrumental. The song “Lie to Me” talks about not wanting to hear any hard truths over a rhythmic beat while the track “Sunny Rain” talks about what it’s like for him to love this woman over a warm instrumental.
The song “Hold On” teams back up with Wrekonize as they tell their partners not to let go of them over a calming instrumental while the track “Double Down” talks about getting back up when you’re on the ground over a psychedelic beat. The closer “Let You Down” talks about getting lost in his thoughts over an acoustic instrumental & then the bonus cut “Late Checkout” is essentially Bernz doing dumb shit in the club over a beat that I almost wanna say is a bit Latin flavored.
Strange Music has been constantly staying busy all year & if this is the last full-length album we’re getting from them until 2021, then what a damn-near perfect way to finish it off because Bernz really took it to a whole nother level on here in comparison to [i]See You on the Other Side[/i]. The lyrics are most personal yet & his chemistry with 7 is just astounding, as the production on here is incredibly versatile.
Strange Music has been constantly staying busy all year & if this is the last full-length album we’re getting from them until 2021, then what a damn-near perfect way to finish it off because Bernz really took it to a whole nother level on here in comparison to See You on the Other Side. The lyrics are most personal yet & his chemistry with 7 is just astounding, as the production on here is incredibly versatile.
Wrekonize is a 37 year old MC & producer based in Miami, Florida who’s been around for almost 20 years at this point. Starting out in the battle circuit, he eventually put out a total of 3 mixtapes throughout the 2000s before coming out with his full-length debut A Soiree for Skeptics in 2010. However, it wouldn’t be until the following year when he signed to Strange Music as a solo artist & as a member of the group ¡MAYDAY!. His 2013 sophomore effort The War Within would go onto receive critical acclaim & was followed up in 2017 with Into the Further. But as we approach near the end of 2020, Wrekonize is completing the trilogy by dropping his 4th full-length album.
After the “We’ll Be Waiting for You” intro, we get into the first song “The Fallen”. Where Wrek talks about being in Hell over a settle trap beat from The Xtraordinaire$. The next song “Be Me” talks about uniqueness over a rock-flavored instrumental & after the “Tell Me Your Symptoms” skit, the track “Lights Off” talks about his mind always movin’ over a trap beat from 7 with a plinky xylophone.
The song “Wits’ Ends” talks about being more anxious than ever over a bleak instrumental while the track “For the Likes” takes aim at clout chasers over acoustic trap beat. After the “State of the World” skit, the song “Low Water” gets on the wisdom tip over an scary-sounding beat while the track “Sedentary Moments” talks about how he used to sit & dream as a kid over a laidback boom bap beat.
The track “Anyweigh” is literally a spousal argument on wax backed by a woozy instrumental from Leonard DStroy while the song “High Water” talks about breaking free from the cage of stress over a trap beat with some psychedelic guitar passages. The track “Simple Back Then” looks back on his childhood over a soothing instrumental while the song “Oakland” is a slow, R&B jam written towards his partner. After the “Separate Yourself” skit, the track “Zombies” talks about freeing the listeners’ minds over a foreboding trap instrumental while “The Man Under the Bridge” talks about homelessness over a funky beat.
The self-produced “Call for My Name” pays tribute to Valerie Ryan over some prominently knocking drums & after the “Couple Last Stories” skit, “The Coldest Dish” is a tearjerking tribute to Wrek’s parents & brother backed by a trap beat with some somber piano-chords. The closer “Still Around (Down) talks about his desire to live without fear over a grungy trap instrumental & then the bonus cut “Detonate” with Tech N9ne & UBI finds the trio talking about losing their minds over a full-blown dubstep beat.
Wrekonize has always been one of the most standout artists on Strange Music & to me, this is right behind The War Within for his magnum opus. The production choices have improved greatly in comparison to Into the Further, the concept is so articulately put together & does a fantastic job of showing the listener where he’s at right now mentally.
Tech N9ne is a Kansas City, Missouri veteran who’s music I’ve covered countless times up to this point. From founding the independent powerhouse Strange Music alongside his manager Travis O’Guin to his insane work ethic & an incredibly lengthy discography, the man really has done a lot to the culture to solidify himself as one of the all-time greats. He just put out his 22nd album ENTERFEAR back in April, which was followed up by a great outtakes EP MORE FEAR just a couple months ago. However with the Halloween season approaching quickly, Tech is finishing the FEAR trilogy by releasing his 8th EP.
After the “Rally the Troops” intro, the first song “EPOD” with JL sees the 2 talking about being the illest over a woozy trap beat from 7 whereas the next track “I Think” is a fresh showcase of the current Strange Music roster over a grimy instrumental. The song “Sprocket” with Krizz Kaliko is yet another addition to Tech’s long list of club bangers backed by a vigorous beat from N4 while the track “Tech’s Mex” talks about his originality over a spacious instrumental.
The penultimate song “Becoming Too Famous“ talks about the crazy amount of press coverage he’s received recent years over a settle trap beat & after the “Exodus” skit, the closer “Making a Killin’ (I Ain’t Scared of Shit)” talks about moving on from the FEAR trilogy as he announces his upcoming 23rd album Asin9ne dropping next year over a ghostly instrumental.
Man, what a good way to segway into the next chapter of Tech’s career. He gives listeners an introspective look at where’s at currently whereas 7 & N4 both continue to prove both of their own sounds compliment Tech the best. Beyond excited to hear where he takes things next year.
This is the brand new album from Kansas City rapper Joey Cool. Gaining attention as a long-time affiliate of local independent hip hop powerhouse Strange Music, he releasing a total of 4 mixtapes & a studio album on his own before Tech N9ne decided to officially sign him to the Snake & Bat just about 3 years ago. He made his official Strange debut in 2018 with his self-titled sophomore effort & that was followed up last fall with Old Habits Die Hard. But with his birthday being earlier this week, Joey is celebrating by dropping Coolie High.
The opener “Black Magic” speaks on his prophecy over a trap instrumental from Dominique Sanders with a catchy rhythm to it & then the next track “It’s All Me” talks about the redundancy to talk shit over an icy boom bap beat. The song “You Ain’t Seen Shit” claps back at the naysayers over a militant trap beat from 7 while the track “I’m Fine” is a great humble brag backed by a rubbery Kato instrumental.
The song “Bandolera” with Bodega Bamz, J-Izzie & VG Legacy sees the 4 getting sexual over a Latin-flavored instrumental from longtime collaborator Burna Music while the track “Lifting Me Higher” vents about his inner struggles over a gospel-esque beat. The song “Lions” with JL & Tech N9ne is a deadly showcasing of their chopping skills while the track “Blame Coolie” talks about wanting all the smoke over a diabolical-sounding instrumental.
The song “F.S.U. (Fuck Shit Up)” is a monstrous moshpit starter while the track “Talk About It” ponders what he did to get people talking shit about him over a chaotic beat. The song “Poisoned” talks about how it’s a messed up world over a druggy instrumental while the track “Pirates” with Rittz finds the 2 boasting over a skeletal yet aggressive beat.
The song “Hold Up” with Landxn Fyre sees the 2 talking about those who act like they ain’t shit over a vibrant instrumental while the track “Systematic” with the late Info Gates finds the 2 diving into the meaning of such over a spacious boom bap beat. The song “Why Do You Love Me?” with Yung Scar is a decent romance ballad with some saloon-esque piano chords while the track “Go There” with Krizz Kaliko sees the 2 talking about looking to ease their minds over a full blown reggae beat.
The song “Wish I Was You” talks about those who want to be in Joey’s position over an uplifting beat while the track “Stuck” talks about someone who refuses to change over a moody instrumental while the song “Still Catchin’ Waves” talks about never looking back to the past. The titular closer gets celebratory over a rock influenced instrumental & then the bonus cut “Blessed” talks about accepting who he is over a synth heavy boom bap beat.
Man, it just seems like Joey just keeps getting better & better with each year he puts something out. There were a few features that I personally could’ve done without, but you get a really good look at how skilled Joey is as an MC throughout a good portion of this album’s 72 & a half minute runtime.
This is the brand new album from Missouri emcee JL, who started out as a member of the B. Hood crew before signing to Strange Music in 2015. His full-length debut on the label D.I.B.K.I.S. (Do It Big Keep It Strange) that came out a few years ago was a proper introduction to the Strange fanbase & I really liked that Kontra-Band collab effort he did with Stevie Stone in 2018 too. But after teasing new music for quite some time now, JL’s officially back with The Devil Hates Sundays.
After the intro, the first song “Silver” makes numerous references to the titular color over an organ-inflicted boom bap beat from 7 (who produced about half the album) whereas the track “Sunday Morning” with Marley Young finds the 2 comparing them & their significant others to Adam & Eve over a euphoric beat. The song “Means to an End” with Tech N9ne sees both spitters talking about doing anything for better luck over a trap beat with some bells while the track “Ask for It” with LeezoSTG & Maez301 finds the trio talking about giving their significant others anything they want over a rubbery instrumental.
The song “Ahh Haa” talks about being high over a hyphy beat from Wyshmaster while the track “Who Raised You?” talks about how they don’t make ‘em like this over a beat with some bells & a background singer humming. The song “Flashing Out” is filled with clever Hollywood references over a cavernous instrumental from Dominique Sanders while the track “That’s Him” with Joey Cool displays an impeccable chemistry with one another over a monstrous beat.
The song “Sleep on Me” with Krizz Kaliko sees the 2 talking about being underrated over a bleak instrumental while the track “Petty Bop” does a good job of living up to it’s name both lyrically & sonically. The song “Common Sense” talks about him being one of a kind over a cloudy beat while the track “Coming Down” talks about being off of the high over a woodwind-infused beat.
The song “SOS” talks about being too far gone over a dense beat while the track “Voices” with Jehry Robinson sees the 2 talking about the internal conflict within them over a desolate beat. The song “MIA” talks about getting to the money over a woozy instrumental while the track “Moonwalker” links up with Suli4Q & the CES Cru finds the 4 talking about revenge over a somewhat quirky beat.
The song “If I Wasn’t” with Saigon & Starrz finds the 3 painting scenarios of where they’d be if they never made it in the rap game over an intoxicating instrumental while the penultimate track “Bat Shit Crazy” talks about his boo being as wild as him over a sensual beat. The album finishes with “Inner Demons”, where JL apologizes for how he is over an instrumental with some slick guitar-playing.
Overall, I think this is JL’s best work date. There are a couple of features that I personally could’ve done without, but the lyrics on here are at his most introspective with the religious theme only enhancing it & the production fitting each cut like a glove.
Krizz Kaliko is a 46 year old rapper, singer & songwriter from Kansas City, Missouri known for being a Day 1 signing to Strange Music along with Kutt Calhoun. He’s put out a total of 6 albums & 2 EPs through the label since, with the latest prior to this being G.O. (God’s Order) in 2016. And even though that record was predominantly R&B, it was still damn-near perfect. However after a nearly 5-year hiatus, Krizz is returning with his 7th full-length album.
Things start off with “21, where Krizz & Tech N9ne talk about celebrating their birthday over a lively beat from Wyshmaster. The next song “Little” with Stevie Stone sees the 2 talking about having trouble on their minds over a nocturnal trap instrumental while “The Recipe” tries to seek answers from God over a suspenseful beat. The track “S.O.B.” calls out the frauds over a druggy instrumental while the song “Get Chose” talks about him freaking out.
The track “Borrowed Time” talks about how life is catching up to him over a moody N4 instrumental while the song “Bitches I Know” talks about how he be popping over a beat with some plinky keyboards. The track “Follow the Drip” links back up with Tech talk about how to find them over a monstrous trap instrumental while the song “What Do You Mean?” with King Iso finds the 2 talking about their grind over a skeletal beat.
The track “You” talks about being bottled up over a forlorn instrumental while the song “Drunk White Girls” with CJ Hicks is a humorous club banger backed by an off-the-wall beat from 7. The track “Let You Tell It” talks about how he’ll never leave the rap game over a druggy beat while the song “Amen” talks about being 95% here over a beat with some tavern sounding piano chords.
The track “Didn’t Need Woes” looks back on his childhood over an instrumental that kinda has a jazzy feel to it while the song “Foolish” with Rittz sees the 2 getting reckless over a cavernous trap beat. The track “Avoiding Mirrors” with Jelly Roll & Merkules finds the trio talking about being all fucked up over a chaotic instrumental while the song “Mad” with JL sees the 2 clapping back at people talking shit behind their backs over a trap beat with some keys & a rubbery bass-line. The closer “Coloring Book” talks about how they can never get him right over a dim instrumental & then the bonus cut “Understood” with Tech finds the duo talking about how they don’t sleep over a violin-inflicted beat.
Been a long-time coming but at the end of the day, this is a great comeback effort for Krizz. It’s got everything you love about him: Great rapping, even greater singing, well-written verses/hooks, banging’ ass production suiting the tone of each song & some well-incorporated features. Legend definitely solidifies Krizz as an OG of the culture & here’s to more albums from him in the near future. Welcome back, Kali!
This is the sophomore album from Maryland‘s very own Maez301. Setting his foot in the industry a few years ago with his debut mixtape Nowhere, the project eventually caught the attention of Ervin Pope & Jerome Taylor. Both of whom helped Maez sign with Strange Music in 2018 & just last fall, they put his self-titled debut showcasing versatility. And as the 1 year anniversary of that album approaches in a couple months, Maez & Ervin are back at it again with Hasaan.
The album kicks off with “Thank You”, where Maez talks about living how he wants now over a graceful beat. The next song “Eff U Thought” with Lex Bratcher sees the 2 clapping back at their detractors over a hard trap instrumental while the track “Like It” with E-40 finds both of them charmingly bragging about themselves over a hyphy beat. The song “R.I.P.” with Infinite E sees the 2 talking about women doing them dirty over a slow instrumental while the track “Back in a Minute” flexes over a playful trap beat.
The song “Sick” vents about almost taking his own life over a mellow instrumental while the track “Orange Blood” talks about wanting to be taken back to when life for him was sample over a trap beat from some luscious keyboards. The song “Y.O.L.O. (You Only Live Once)” talks about turning up over a vigorous instrumental while the track “Lately” tells this woman not to fuck with him over a punchy yet somewhat atmospheric beat.
The song “Don’t Go” with Leila is a decent R&B/trap fused duet about heartbreak while the track “She Say” talks about sex over a moody beat. The song “Never Go” talks about a bitch switching on him over a gentle boom bappy instrumental while the track “Stride” talks about a woman running back to him over a nocturnal beat.
The song “20879” with Ducemd & Infinite E sees the 3 boasting over a vibrant instrumental while the track “90047” with Bad Lucc finds the 2 showing the listeners how to get bread over a euphoric beat with a bit of a West Coast feel to it. The song “Destiny” talks about being made for this rap shit over an instrumental cooler than the ocean breeze while the track “Let U Go” is an acoustic ballad about moving on from this woman.
The song “Up” with Infinite E sees the 2 talking about how they’re on top over a glamorous instrumental while the track “Instagram Famous” is pretty much both of them getting back together again to talk about hoes with large social media followings over a plain beat. The closer “Real Real Love” repetitively talks about wanting an actually romantic bond over an unexpected synth-funk instrumental & then the bonus cut “Higher” gives thanks to the higher power over a synthy boom bap beat.
This is just as dope as the self-titled album & it’s another reminder of how talented Maez can be. The lyrics are a lot more personal this time around in comparison to previous efforts & Ervin Pope’s production continues to bring the best out of him.